Nigerians and the Limits of the Divine Alibi

Map of Nigreria

By Isidore Emeka Uzoatu


This is no breaking news. Surely, keen observers of the Nigerian space and species would have observed our undisguised national penchant for passing bucks to the Divine ante. Arguably, no Nigerian lives long enough to outgrow this malignant national malaise till death. No doubt acquired from birth, we most times end up carrying it on our heads through life. Like flashing dreadlocks on the head of Jamaican Rastas, I dare add.


This wise, our countrymen (and women, of course) find no qualms with blaming the ubiquitous Mr/Ms A. N. Other for their various commissions and, or, omissions. Irrespective of position, they’ll even do this without as much as bating the lid of an eye. So much so that in doing so, they’d often end up neglecting even their terms of office, sworn to under oath.


Like during the last political dispensation before the present debacle. Yes, for this is still within easy recall in spite of our other scourge of selective amnesia. Our immediate past president, for starters, never found anything wrong with blaming his predecessor(s) for everything wrong with the country all through his eight-year tenure. A game that  he often dated as farther back as to those patriotic colleagues of his that truncated his reign as military junta.


And this as though unaware of what a past US president had done to prove the contrary. To remind all of the humongous weight of his responsibilities, that man among men had sitting on his desk a plaque saying: ‘The Buck Stops Here.’ Making a guy wonder why we aren’t so blessed over here.


Meanwhile, like has also been proven beyond doubt, our leaders have commandeered much more powers – let alone the pay – than their US counterparts. What with our executive arm almost always pocketing the other arms of government in their customised agbadas of office. Sans an iota of respect for the famed separation of powers that is the bedrock democracies the world over.


Perhaps the commonest in this incipient national anomaly remains the ease with which we acquease our otherwise inherent capabilities to the Supreme Being. Or beings as the case has often been. I can swear that the day a Nigerian will break the world 100 metres record, all such an individual will claim at the post-race interview will be that the feat was achieved by God. As if he had not run the race with his or her two legs!


As young students at the Religion Department of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, it was one of the early challenges we had to surmount. As always, the class was a mishmash of religious wannabes and irreligious students making do with admission courtesy of the department’s low cutoff marks. In effect, only very few in the number wanted to study the course for its sake.


The baptism to the cure did not take too long to manifest, though. First a local don had dropped the hint in the sweltering heat of an afternoon lecture. Rather passively, he had politely informed us that he wouldn’t take God’s omnipotence as an answer to any questions he would proffer us in tests and examinations. From experience, it appeared that sets before us tended to link the passing of our ancestors into desuetude by Europeans and Arabs to God.


No sooner after, a visiting German theologian came calling. When he openly challenged that pristine attribute of God during his lecture, we were not amused. To say the least, at the height of the hullabaloo raised against the apparently blasphemous view in our inchoate intellect, he shut us all up with a simple question: ‘Can God do evil?’


Back to the world of men, the developments in the country following the recent presidential elections have been kind of conciliatory to this. Of the many trends about town, the most unnerving has been the call on those calling for sanity to let sleeping dogs lie. According to them, even if the elections wouldn’t stand every integrity test thrown at it, the announced winner should be tolerated by all. Asked why so, they’ll all chorus that it was made possible by God who alone anoints rulers.


True to form, this line has been towed by even members of the parties whose representatives at the polls are challenging the announced winner at the presidential election tribunal. In this amalgam are also amassed members of the ‘winner’s’ party. By them, the announced results are nothing but the true reflection of thewish(es) of the majority of the country.


And this is where the rub lies. In the heat of the leading arguments – and their counters – it has become clear that patriotism has many definitions in this country. Yes, many are convinced that, like the theory of God itself, there can only be one measure for good. But contrariwise many remain trapped in the abyss of a truncated reality. Instead of agreeing with the sun’s uniqueness, they are easily convinced that theirs outshines others’.


O yes, it’s God that crowns kings. But it only serves to uproot the perennial problem of evil. How come an all loving God, an otherwise omnipotent and omniscient Being, permits the world to function in its present state? The same reason the late Steve Jobs of Apple fame turned atheist at the sight of the malnourished children of Biafra in a magazine.


Regarding our present electoral predicament, a plethora of questions queue up in tandem. Does it mean, for instance, that it’s the Supreme Being – and Its angels, perhaps – that descended from on high to mutilate the form EC8s being exposed up and down on the social media?


Put otherwise, it doesn’t seem as though any transfigurations occurred in the collation centres. Otherwise, knowing Nigerians for what they are, there would have been a total acquiescence to the will of our creator. Thus, since whatever transpired from the soap boxes to the polling booths and collation centres were manufactured by men (and women), it’s us that will rectify it. And we must.


Therefore, the afoot ought to be handled by us in unison. The onus is on us – one and all – to see through the charade and separate the wheat of God from the chaff of men. Only that way can we determine the true winner ordained by God to lead us to the new Nigeria that we crave.


*Uzoatu wrote in from Onitsha Anambra State Nigeria.